McCoy: Cincinnati Reds counting on pitcher they beat up on Friday

Credit: Logan Riely

Credit: Logan Riely

If nothing else, Kevin Gausman is a polite fellow. Shortly after his arrival in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse Tuesday, a dozen media members surrounded his locker, digital recorders and microphones in his face.

Before a question could be asked, Gausman stuck out his hand and shook with each and every one and said, “Hi, I’m Kevin Gausman. I’m sure I won’t remember many of the name for now, but I just want to introduce myself. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.”

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What the Reds hope, though, is that Gausman comes out of the bullpen and introduces some outs, which have been tough to come by for several members of the bullpen.

After Gausman started Friday for the Atlanta Braves and the Reds beat him up, the Braves put him on waivers. The Reds quickly signed him.

He drove seven hours from Atlanta on Tuesday morning and is ready to go to work and manager David Bell says there will be no acclimation period. If needed, Gausman will pitch Tuesday night.

Gausman, a right-hander, replaces left-hander Wandy Peralta, optioned to Class AAA Louisville on Tuesday. That leaves one left-hander in the Reds bullpen. That would be Amir Garrett and he soon will serve a suspension for his involvement in the brawl with the Pittsburgh Pirates. And then, for a short period, there will be no lefties to fortify the bullpen.

“There is really nothing we can do about it right now and we’ll see what happens with Amir,” said Bell. Garrett was suspended eight games but hopes to have that number reduced via appeal. “Hopefully it is less games. On some level, though, we are going to have to deal with that (no left handers in the bullpen). That’s just part of what transpired and we know we’ll have to handle that.”

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Spinning it to the positive side, Bell says, “Left or right, we just have to have our best pitching staff. We thought it was a great opportunity to pick up Gausman to see what he can do.

“He is fully rested and he does have experience and good stuff, but we’re going to have to find out. He can’t go through a spring training period so we have to find out.”

Lefty Cody Reed is on the injured list and isn’t expected back until September and former Reds starter turned bullpen guy Brandon Finnegan, also a lefty, is pitching at Class AA Chattanooga.

“I know that after the first couple of appearances (out of five) it was encouraging on Finnegan,” said Bell. “It has been a big year for him and he has gained a lot.”

After spring training, instead of sending Finnegan to Triple-A Louisville, the Reds decided to turn him over to a third party outside the organization to work on mechanics. He spent the first few months of the season in Billings, Mont., working with the outside help, whom the Reds declined to name.

Gausman was strictly a starter in Atlanta this season and was 3-7 with a 6.19 earned run average in 16 starts. But he has worked out of the bullpen in the past.

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“I definitely didn’t think this was going to happen when I was facing y’all,” he said. “This game surprises you. I was in Baltimore last year and got traded to Atlanta. I was fortunate to pitch in the post-season for them out of the bullpen. This year? I just never got into a rhythm.

“I am excited to be here because this team has done a lot to progress themselves forward,” he said. “They have some really good arms, some really good young players and some speed on the basepaths. There is a lot to like here.”

As for his role, Gausman says he is armed and ready to do the deed his manager wants.

“Whatever they need, whether it is the sixth inning, the third inning, whatever,” he said. “I have relieved in the past and started. I’ve had more experience starting over my career, but I pitched in the postseason out of the bullpen, also in 2014 for the Baltimore Orioles. I know enough about what to expect. It won’t be my first time. I’m confident in myself. My stuff only gets better out of the bullpen and usually that’s the case when I pitch out of the bullpen. My stuff is harder.”

Gausman is anxious to work with pitching coach Derek Johnson, who saw him pitch for LSU while Johnson was pitching coach at Vanderbilt.

“He got to see me pitch in college before I got to the big leagues,” said Gausman. “”I’m looking forward to working with him. Just talking to him on the phone it seems he and (bullpen coach Caleb Cotham) have a really good relationship. That’s always good when the bullpen coach and pitching coach are on the same page.”

His numbers are plug ugly, but the 28-year-old native of Centennial, Colo., at the base of the Rockies, says those numbers lie.

“I’ve had some really good starts, especially two starts ago against the Nationals,” he said. “I feel like I’m right there and, honestly, I feel I’ve thrown the ball a lot better than what the numbers say.”

And that’s why Gausman was a bit taken aback when the Braves put him on waivers rather than demote him to Triple-A.

“I was a little bit shocked, to be honest,” he said. “As a player you are always surprised when something like this happens. I had no idea where I would end up. Fortunately it is a place that I was able to drive to — just seven hours. I’m glad it wasn’t San Diego.”

It is Cincinnati, Kevin, and the Reds are counting on you.

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